Nature Mom’s Pre-Planning



One of the great things about Barb letting us know what topics are coming up – is that we, as the leader, can keep our eyes open for opportunities. I read ahead, and then while we are on excursions, I keep my eyes open.  We don’t just ‘happen’ upon our nature study topics. Barb spends quite a bit of time researching what topics we will explore. Sometimes, the object is not in my yard, nor in my area, and I can know ahead to do something similar.  One topic coming up is Oak Trees. We don’t have them. We do have a lot of Big Leaf Maple – and I think I will exchange.


Since one of our challenges it to measure trunks – I am on the look out for unique trunks.  I also like to read ahead in the Handbook of Nature Study Book to find interesting facts.  We learned that the roots are closer to the top because that is the easiest source of water for these Sitka Spruce trees. You would think that the Pacific Northwest should be pretty saturated, but even a large tree will take the easy way out. Many a hiker stumbles on a trail when they are unaware of all of the roots crossing their path.


Here is the other side of the tree above.  Those roots are massive. I believe, since this is part of the river wall, that it is more likely that a flood year eroded the dirt around the tree, rather than the roots grew above ground for this particular case. If it were our Outdoor Hour time, I’d ask the boys to ponder and talk about why the roots are exposed and large.


I was walking along and saw these roots. Holy Cow! They are wrapped around a fallen old growth tree – that is very decayed. how long ago would that tree have fallen to have these trees grow to this size? I wandered up and down the tree line and this is what I saw:




I can’t really express how long this fallen tree is. The log is as high as my shoulders. That’s a full grown red huckleberry tree.  HUGE. How many years would this take?


This free fall looks recent, evidenced by the fresh cut rounds.  Many times people will cut the tree to fit the trail.  The Tree Trimmers that work on the highway park their trucks nearby, I’m guessing this is their work on their way to their lunch spot.


Another interesting root base.  One might ask the observer how they think this developed. Based on the tree above it could be two trees merged together, the water could have been this high on a flood year, but I doubt it, they could just be roots grown out. Interesting for sure. The key is to be familiar with your subject, so that when you see out of the ordinary, it makes you pause.  This is why I like year round studies, and finding them in many spots year after year. Looking at one tree, one time for “tree study” only tells you the name and location of the tree. 


The first time down this trail I spotted the fallen tree roots above.  By far, in my um 40ish years in Oregon Woods, this has to be the largest root system I have seen from a fallen tree.  I wanted to try to photograph it, but after many attempts, it still looks like a ‘normal’ system. After storms this is a common sight.


I asked Jon to stand in front of it and pose for me last night.  Did I mention I was working on his “shy” issues? No?  I took 3 more normal poses, and he chose this one himself for the blog.  I said – Um – This is going on Pinterest today.  He still agreed.


It was getting dark. I tried to zoom into these. Based on the surrounding trees and the size of the trunk, I’m thinking Spruce or Hemlock. I didn’t see a lot of Douglas Fir in the area. The root supported two trees. I walked quite a ways up the trail, but the trail turned before I could find branches with foliage. From the looks of what was growing nearby, I’m going to assume that this tree fell many many years ago.


Are you wishing your kids were more excited about your 15 minutes of outdoor observation?  A little pre-planning may help. The hard part for me, is keeping this information to myself until it is time to be intentional outdoors.  If you hold a few surprises in your pocket, a few ahah moments, then your children will come to see the outdoor time as an adventure – searching for treasures. I did point a few things out to the boys. We did spend some time scanning the river shore to name the trees. As I read the challenges coming up, my mind went directly to two local areas very close to home, to do our observations in. When I told Jon about the October Pinterest  Photo Challenge, he immediately had a site he wants to take an intentional photo.

Trees.  A topic I love to study. Sometimes the thing most abundant, most observed, holds the most surprises when you really start to intentionally observe it.

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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4 Responses to Nature Mom’s Pre-Planning

  1. Hi Petra, I’m surprised you don’t have oak over there, i wonder why that is?

    Here in England we have some mighty specimens, we love our Oak trees so much over here that we even support them with scaffolding when they look like they are about to tumble. One famous Oak here is in Sherwood forest,Nottingham. The story goes that Robin Hood frequented this wood and so it is a tourist spot.

    there is another mighty oak that is supported near me here in the middle of England that has a massive trunk (waist/girth? what do we call them?) Again we support it from falling over as it has a history with it.

  2. Éireann says:

    I really really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing your nature study tips. 🙂 The photos were really impressive, as was Jon’s photo selection. He’s adorable!

  3. godmadeknown says:

    Your last statement is so true. The year we spent studying botany opened my eyes to the obvious in ways I never imagined. I sure like the idea of “intentional observation.”

  4. Blossom says:

    Very good advice, Angie. A little goes a long way 😉
    Those are some huge trees and the one that was fallen- wowzers!

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